Friday, August 29, 2014

African predators in Sydney

A TERRIFIED woman who was chased by two would-be rapists along two trains in a 10km escape says she feared for her life.

The woman, identified as Merlyn, claims two men ­approached her at Wolli Creek station at 11pm on Tuesday night, calling her “babe” and trying to grab her, before she escaped by jumping on to an outgoing train.

Thirty minutes and 9.4km later at Beverly Hills, the scared 29-year-old was forced to fend off one of the same ­attackers with her umbrella outside Beverly Hills station when the attack escalated.

She said the terrifying ­ordeal started at Wolli Creek as one of the two men followed her down the stairs to a ­platform. After switching trains at Turrella and getting off near her home at Beverly Hills around 30 minutes later, she was terrified when she saw the same two men get off the train and again follow her.

Still visibly upset 12 hours after the alleged incident yesterday, Merlyn said she tried to fend off one of the men with her umbrella as he chased her down the middle of King ­Georges Rd in pouring rain while she screamed for help.

Later she was attacked again at Beverly Hills station, but managed to beat them off with

Later she was attacked again at Beverly Hills station, but managed to beat them off with her umbrella. Picture: Toby Zerna

With no one stopping to help Merlyn said she feared she would be killed or raped until a woman named “Helen” whisked her to safety in her car. “If not I don’t know what would have happened,” she said. Merlyn, who migrated from the Philippines eight years ago and has a four-year-old son, said she believed the pair were going to abduct and sexually assault her.

Merlyn said both men were aged 18 to 22 and of African ­appearance. One was skinny with curly hair, the other was fat. Police are investigating.


Islam in Australia: Living and dying for the flag of Allah

A SENIOR leader of radical Sydney-based Islamic organisation al-Risalah has denounced the Australian flag, as the group’s supporters posted Facebook messages about ­beheading “non-believers”.

Wissam Haddad, the head of the al-Risalah Islamic Centre in Sydney’s southwest, yesterday told The Daily Telegraph he followed the “flag of Allah” rather than the flag of Australia.

The flag, called the Shahada, is the same as the one used by Islamic State terrorists who have been spreading death and terror across the Middle East.

“For me to have the Shahada flag, as it’s called, that’s a flag that I stand and live and die for and I don’t stand and live and die for the Australian flag.”

It is frequently found on modern Islamic flags and over the last few decades has been adopted by Islamic insurgents.

Mr Haddad, who has ties to Sydney men fighting with Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria, avoids appearing in public and never allows his photograph to be taken.

He said his group was entitled to fly the ancient symbol. He cited the “genocide of Aboriginals” and the use of their flag as justification for supporting the Shahada.

Mr Haddad, who was not invited to join a group of Muslims for talks with Mr Abbott yesterday, has had eight social media accounts shut down, forcing him to rename his profile. He claims Muslims are being unfairly targeted both by Facebook and Twitter.

“I know a lot of people (who have had to shut down and restart their accounts),” he said. “Pretty much anyone very outspoken is getting their accounts shut down.”

In the past week, al-Risalah followers have posted messages about beheading, in the wake of the shocking image of Sydney terrorist Khaled Sharrouf’s son holding the severed head of a Syrian soldier.

This followed fellow terrorist and former Sydney boxer Mohamed Elomar posting similar photographs on Twitter. Al-Risalah members wear black supporter vests, which sell for $65.

The al-Risalah centre has hosted radical preachers, and Mr Haddad is a supporter of the Islamic State’s “Jizyah” protection tax on Christians and Jews in Syria and Iraq.

Also yesterday, teenage Muslim extremist Sulyman Khalid, who was arrested for an alleged hate crime against a Bankstown cleaner, has been released on bail. Mr Khalid, who calls himself Abu Bakr, will front Bankstown Local Court on September


Apartheid Billboard -- "Wrong in South Africa. Wrong in Palestine" -- taken down
Libel has never had free speech protections and the message on  the billboard is an egregious lie -- grossly defamatory to Israel and Israelis

The Free Palestine billboard that was taken down last week from its City Road, Southbank [Melbourne] position by oOh! Media pending a determination, will not be put back.  

The Chief Operating Officer of oOh! Media said that his company had decided the Apartheid message – Wrong in South Africa. Wrong in Palestine. was political and that it was within its rights to terminate the contract with Australians for Palestine.   He also advised that the Advertising Standards Board would not be making a ruling.

While clause 10.1 does allow for termination of the contract, the required seven (7) days written notice was never given.  Instead the billboard was arbitrarily taken down within 48 hours.  The company claimed that it had made its decision after considering the unprecedented number of complaints.

Ms Samah Sabawi speaking on behalf of Australians for Palestine said “that this action contravenes the rights to freedom of opinion and expression as set out in articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Australia is party.”

According to the website of the Attorney- General’s department, Article 19(2) of the ICCPR protects freedom of expression in any medium, for example written and oral communications, the media, public protest, broadcasting, artistic works and commercial advertising. The right protects not only favourable information or ideas, but also unpopular ideas, including those that may offend or shock.”

In regard to this particular advertisement, Ms Sabawi went on to say “that the advertisement was truthful and in no way offensive, and furthermore, that its message was informational and educational rather than political. It is shameful, “Ms Sabawi said,  “that in a democratic country like Australia, such pressure can contradict the opinions of the world’s two most eminent human rights proponents – Mandela and Tutu.”


Senate Must Seize Chance To Back Sensible Reform
The passing of the Government’s Fair Work Amendment Bill through the House of Representatives gives the Senate the opportunity to demonstrate that it is in support of sensible and balanced industrial relations reforms that will help boost economic and jobs growth. 

“Master Builders urges the cross bench Senators to seize this chance to back the Bill’s balanced productivity reforms which for the building and construction industry means it can increase its productivity and create jobs,” Wilhelm Harnisch, CEO of Master Builders Australia said.

“The Bill is a positive step in returning the industrial relations system to the sensible centre and includes reforms recommended by the previous Labor Government’s Fair Work Review Panel,” he said.

“Particularly important are proposed changes to right of entry provisions to end abuse by building union officials who use right of entry as an illegitimate industrial weapon and brutal exercise in power,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.

“Claims by union officials that right of entry abuses are justified on safety grounds have been thoroughly discredited. Safety is paramount for contractors and workers on construction sites. However union officials continue to debase the importance of safety by using it as an industrial weapon,” he said.

 “Master Builders also supports reforms to Greenfields Agreements to curtail the ability of building unions to drive up costs and hold up the delivery of vital community infrastructure projects,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.

“Why should the community have to pay more for less hospital beds and class rooms because of the union’s unjustified and unlawful behaviours on construction sites?,” he said.

“The Fair Work Amendment Bill does not constitute a return to WorkChoices but instead introduces common sense changes which will improve the productivity and job creating capacity of the construction industry and the broader economy,” he said.

“Master Builders urges the Senate, particularly the cross bench Senators to support this Bill when it comes before them,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.


Scientists reveal how they feel about climate change in handwritten letters and photos

Another attempt to substitute appeals to authority for actual evidence

SCIENTISTS can be a practical bunch, they deal with facts, data, hard evidence. But even scientists can lose their s*** sometimes and now they are revealing how they really feel.

Academics from around Australia have posed for striking photographs, while others have put their feelings about climate change in handwritten letters as part of two independent projects.

In one masters project, Australian National University student Joe Duggan contacted scientists and asked them to write the letters about how they felt about climate change.

“What follows are the words of real scientists. Researchers that understand climate change,” states the Is This How You Feel website, where Duggan is publishing the letters.

The letters feel more personal because they are handwritten and the passion, frustration and anxiety is palpable in some of them.

But there is also guilt that they too are left feeling apathetic because of the lack of action and interest in tackling the problem.

A letter from Dr Ailie Gallant of Monash University reflects many of her fellow scientists views: “I hate feeling helpless. I’m ashamed to say that, sometimes, my frustration leads to apathy. I hate feeling apathetic.  “All I can hope is that people share my optimism and convert it into Action.”

Duggan told that scientists were generally called on to communicate with the public about climate change using data and clinical prose but it occurred to him that this might not be the best way, and perhaps giving them an opportunity to express their passion might be a way of cutting through the apathy that many people felt about the issue.

“I’m not trying to convert denialists, I’m trying to reach people who are apathetic, who don’t have an opinion, to show them that climate change is relevant to them,” Duggan said.

On another website launched this month, some of Australia’s top minds have posed for striking portraits and describe what they are most scared of.

This includes earth system scientist Will Steffen of the Australian National University, who says his biggest fear is the loss of control of the climate system.

“If we push the climate too far, if we start losing ice too rapidly, start flipping things like the Amazon, then the internal dynamics of the climate will take over - and even if we pull emissions back, we won’t be able to stop very large changes - that’s my biggest fear.

“The thing people don’t realise, is getting emissions down is not only feasible but economically promising and will actually lead to a better life.”

One of the founders of the site, photographer Nick Bowers said the project was a labour of love that came about after conversations with two fellow creatives copywriter Rachel Guest and art director Celine Faledam.

“We were interested in environmental issues and discussed this constantly among ourselves, we all have young kids,” Bowers said.  “We wanted to try and bring authenticity and humanity to this issue.”

He said the scientists were photographed while they were being interviewed. This includes many prominent names such as mammologist and palaeontologist Tim Flannery.

Bowers said he thought scientists were more willing in recent years, to put forward their personal views as the information around climate change had become overwhelming.  “There’s more evidence of rapid change in climate and that it is going to effect us,” Bowers said.

While some critics have suggested climate scientists are motivated by grant money, Bowers said he got the sense that they just wanted the debate to move on so they could do other science.  “They want to get on with doing other stuff, they are sick of trying to spruik this stuff themselves.”

Duggan has also experienced a strong response from scientists willing to put forward their views. He said he had received about 20 letters from scientists in Australia and estimated that about 70 to 80 per cent of those he had contacted had responded.

“The thing that hits me the most, are that these people are the ones that understand the facts, that understand the data and can pass judgment on climate change and they’re scared. They are literally scared for the world they are leaving behind for their children.  “They get the statistics, they get the facts and they are scared.”

However, Duggan said that while he expected that fear would be the overriding sentiment, he did not expect how optimistic the scientists would be.  “They expressed optimism as well, even with all the problems, there was optimism that they could reach their goals.”


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